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Kid! Back away from the toys

| Thursday, March 24, 2011

They say a fool and his money are soon parted.

It even applies to those who have a lot of it to throw away.

A Manhattan woman is filing a lawsuit against a preschool, seeking the return of $19,000 tuition paid for her 4-year-old daughter. She claims the school failed to fulfill its promise to prepare students for an Ivy League education.

Unimpressed with the "curriculum," Nicole Imprescia pulled her daughter from York Avenue Preschool after only three weeks. She claims in her lawsuit that it wasn't a school at all, but more of a "big playroom."

Clutch the pearls! A playroom• For preschoolers• I bet there were toys, too. What do these people think this is, childhood?

So, what does it mean to be Ivy League-ready at 4 years old• It must mean a mastery of the fine art of napping and a firm grasp of the sippy cup.

A look at its website appears to show that York Avenue Preschool takes its reputation as a big-time preschool seriously. Its mission is to "provide children from diverse backgrounds with a comprehensive traditional early childhood education ..."

I am sure those children are from all walks of life -- those who can afford $19,000 a year for a preschool.

The school has curriculums designed for children ages 2, 3 and 4. Imprescia's daughter would have focused on one alphabet letter a week and worked on "creating connections between the letter, the sound and the children's lives." The children visit museums and work with "different media used by artists."

That sounds a lot like children playing with Play-Doh to me. That's very impressive. Nothing says "Harvard material" like finger paint on your shirt.

Paint, chalk, letter blocks -- surely the cost of equipment adds up. Still, most parents pay $4,000 to $12,000 for preschool, according to the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies, and that's without the promise of a Princeton education.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has guidelines for parents looking for preschools for average kids. They include offering children fresh air, teachers who read to them, play time and opportunity to learn the alphabet. Sounds a lot like what York Avenue Preschool offers.

Exposing a child to the arts sounds great, but in reality, how likely is it that Ivy League schools consider a potential student's preschool background• Princeton University leans heavily on a strong high school career -- four years of English, math, a foreign language, two years of history and lab science courses and a level of study of the visual arts, music or theater.

This strongly suggests that children could party away their toddling years and still make the big time.

Fortunately, for Imprescia, this means her daughter has a fighting chance to make it to the Ivy League, with or without York Avenue Preschool.

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